Saturday, December 19, 2009

Grant's Insight

As a Jew, I try not to get too excited about dead anti-Semites. I read Dostoevsky and listen to Wagner. I make an exception for Hitler. Which brings me back to Ulysses S. Grant.
He had a great insight at the beginning of the war. During his first engagement with the Confederate army, he noticed that the Southern commander was as afraid as he was. It made him think of the enemy as less than invincible. As he told his staff in 1864,"Let's stop thinking about what Lee will do. Let us think about what we will do." He took that knowledge and used it to accomplish his victories in the West and later to final triumph in Virginia.
Grant seemed to do few things well (being President wasn't one of them). Waging war was definitely one of his skills.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, December 18, 2009

Civil War Blooper-God Bless Those Tiny Feet

Confederate Colonel Alfred Rhett suffered capture by the Union Army. His exquisite pair of boots became an immediate subject of interest to his captors. They pronounced the boots an immediate spoil of war. Unfortunately for them, no one could use them since they were too small for Yankee feet.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Grant's Order-A Date of Infamy

On this day in 1862, Ulysses S. Grant did little to cover himself in glory. He issued his Order No. 11 expelling all Jews from his military department by the Mississippi River. The order caused a great deal of suffering among the Jews who had to leave the area before it was rescinded by President Lincoln.

However, I think it's important to put the order in perspective. It was the first and perhaps only act of overt anti-Semitism by an arm of the U.S. Government. In our country, most of the anti-Semitism emerged from private sources and entities. In Europe, the anti-Jewish actions were overt and explicit. Anti-Semitic political parties emerged in the late 19th century. One of the mayors of Vienna, Karl Lueger, was reelected multiple times on an anti-Semitic platform. There was the Dreyfus Affair in France. Then of course came the Nazis and the Holocaust. Though America has a strong anti-Semitic past, the U.S. has not been too bad in comparison to what Jews suffered elsewhere.

Let's put down General Grant's order to an excess of drink, shall we?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Miscellaneous Joke

A member of Team Tiger came to Mr. Woods's desk and showed him pictures of the women who have admitted and those who have claimed to have slept with him. Tiger Woods took one look at those who claimed it and said,"Damn, I wish I'd slept with them."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, December 14, 2009

Civil War Blooper-Retreat

Union Colonel Edward Baker informed his eager men that they could find the war if they followed the plume of his hat. They took his admonition seriously when he led them over a cliff during a retreat.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Dubious Joys of Civilian Oversight

Today in 1861, Congress passed the legislation creating the Committee on the Conduct of the War. Set up as a reaction to the defeat at Ball's Bluff, the body remained in existence for the rest of the war. This was an early example of Congress asserting its oversight power over the Executive and the military. On its face, it must have seemed like a good idea. In reality, the Committee played little constructive role in the war. Congress, in general, was largely a nonplayer in the Civil War.

Civilian oversight can play a constructive role in wartime. This was especially true for the Truman Committee during World War II. General George C. Marshall told then-Senator Truman, "Your committee was worth two divisions to me."

So civilian oversight can help a war effort. It just depends on who does the overseeing.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Portable Bible

Today in 1861, the American Bible Society produced a noteworthy report on its activities. Funded by private donations, the Society had sent 7,000 copies of the New Testament each day to the soldiers. It became noted that the most of the troops carried two objects: their Bible and a deck of playing cards. That is one combination of the sacred and the profane. However, upon the onset of battle, the soldiers dropped their decks on the ground on the theory that the gates of Heaven would narrow if their Maker found the cards on them. What would have happened if the Lord somehow stumbled on the incriminating evidence?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Civil War Screw-Up: Missing Vital Gear

Clint Johnson's Civil War Blunders chronicles the lack of judgment that some leaders displayed.

Confederate General Felix Zellicoffer wanted to show himself to the enemy. To accomplish this goal, he wore a white raincoat. However, he forgot a vital piece of equipment that would allow him to see the Federals: his eyeglasses.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Civil War Joke-One Big Man

David Van Buskirk of the 27th Indiana Regiment was the Union Army's tallest and largest man. At a height of 6 feet, 11 inches tall (NBA point guard potential) and weighing in at 380 pounds, he towered over them all. Confederate forces captured him in 1862. A Richmond businessman put him on display. The Richmonders came out to see him, including President Davis. Van Buskirk gave Davis an account of his family of giants. He said that when he left for the army, his six sisters saw him off and had to bend down to give him a kiss.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Intelligence Analysis in the Civil War

Edwin Fishel's The Secret War for the Union illuminates how the first intelligence analysts in American history emerged during the Civil War. Hired by George McClellan to analyze the intelligence gathered by his spy chief Allan Pinkerton, our first intelligence analysts were not Americans. They were French.

This team consisted of a family of Bourbon pretenders to the French throne, from the royal family deposed by the French revolutions of 1789 and 1830. Louis Philippe d'Orleans and his brother, Robert d'Orleans, lived in exile in Britain. They served without pay under McClellan. They were joined by their uncle, the prince de Joinville. The two brothers turned laborious intelligence reports into summaries used by the general-in-chief.

In the present time, long delays in security clearance are required to be an intelligence analyst in any of our spy agencies. The director of National Intelligence, Mitch McConnell, once joked,"We are improving our security clearance process. We've whittled it down to eighteen months." I have a feeling that McClellan's security clearance of the Bourbon brothers consisted of a five-minute interview. Intelligence was a truly ad-hoc arrangement during the Civil War.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Loose Lips in the Civil War

Edwin Fishel's The Secret War for the Union discusses how the press during the Civil War routinely reported important military information. With the arrival of Union Army regiments in July 1861 to protect Washington DC, the National Republican listed the regiments in the area with their numbers and names of the officers. In a later report, the New York Herald listed only nineteen of those regiments. The paper later decided to report the army's total strength.

Confederate leaders arranged for the delivery of Northern papers to Richmond. General Lee routinely consulted them.

If you think the press today sinks ships, the newspapers in those days fell over each other to report state secrets.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, November 30, 2009

Civil War Joke-Stonewall Jackson and Music

For all of Stonewall Jackson's talents, music was not one of them.
A female singer came to entertain the men in his brigade. After a performance of several songs, Jackson asked her to perform Dixie.
She replied,"Why General, I already did."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Intelligence Failures and Civilian Contractors

As part of the research for my third novel, I have been reading Edwin Fishel's The Secret War for the Union. It is a book about the role that intelligence gathering played in the outcome of the Civil War.

In the initial parts of the book, Fischel makes a persuasive case that an intelligence failure contributed to the Union defeat at First Bull Run. A spy attached to General Patterson's Federal army in the Shenandoah Valley learned that Joseph Johnston's army in the same region had left its positions to reinforce General Beauregard's forces at Manassas. Patterson failed to pass on the information in time to help General Irvin McDowell, commander of the Union Army at Manassas. The information that McDowell did have about Johnston's approaching army was not processed by his staff because he had no intelligence officer. In the end, Johnston's reinforcements played a decisive role in defeating Union forces at First Manassas. Even in the Civil War, intelligence failures played an important role in victory and defeat.

The Civil War also gave us among the first civilian contractors in our history. Allan Pinkerton, the Scottish-born head of a Chicago-based detective agency, was hired by George McClellan to do counterintelligence in Washington, DC and to spy on the Confederacy. Pinkerton arrested Rose Greenhow, the Confederate spy in Washington and sent agents to Richmond. However, he remained a civilian and never acquired a military commission. Though Fishel doesn't give him the label, Pinkerton was a civilian contractor. The CIA after 9/11 was not the first to subcontract its work to outside civilians.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Book Review-A Separate Country by Robert Hicks

A Separate Country is really a novel about Reconstruction, not the Civil War. In many ways, it's a follow-up to Robert Hicks's first novel, The Widow of the South.

Nevertheless, the book provides some insight into the psychology of the fighting men. By describing the inner life of John Bell Hood, the author writes about how it was necessary to forget those who died in previous battles. Harsh as it was, it served as the only way for the survivors to keep going. In addition, the psychology of generals is also described. After the Battle of Franklin, Hood wonders how his men could let themselves suffer so many casualties. It never occurs to him that he could have had any role in his men's disaster.

Hood's alleged remorse is where the fiction comes into play. Hicks portrays Hood as a man wracked by remorse over his role in that battle. Hood even calls himself a murderer. I did a bit of research and consulted with others online. There is little evidence that he felt such self-revulsion. There may have been some regret but there seemed to have been little mea culpa on his part. Well, it is a novel after all.

As a work of fiction, A Separate Country is very good. The characters are vivid and real. The portrayal of the killer Sebastien LeMerle is excellent. His crimes, though reprehensible, can be understood. You don't agree with them but you see why he did them. The prose is brilliant. Hicks's description of Hood's marriage is accurate and interesting. You feel that Hood and his wife Anne-Marie are truly in love despite the baggage that marriage can gather.

Though it is lightweight as a Civil War book, A Separate Country is worth reading for itself.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Effects of the Civil War on West Point

A little while ago, I attended a talk on the Civil War's effect on the West Point military academy at the New York Civil War Roundtable. Ty Seidule, a colonel in the 82nd Airborne Division, and a teacher at the academy, gave a wonderful lecture on the subject.
He described how the onset of the secession crisis divided the Academy and its cadets. Prior to the war, the cadets became politicized. Several Southern cadets wore blue ribbons called the South Carolina cockade. One pro-Union cadet, Morris Schaff, said it took more courage to vote for Lincoln than to participate in Picketts Charge. With secession, Southerners gradually left the Academy and the men suffered the traumatic experience of companies splitting between the North and South.
After the war, any mention of the graduates who fought for the Confederacy was expunged. Though the Academy accepted Southern cadets when their states were readmitted to the Union, post-war monuments only noted the contributions of Union officers. In 1897, West Point erected the memorial to the Regular Army. The Battle Monument listed 2,230 names, all of them from the Union Army. Southern cadets called it "the monument to Southern marksmanship." The leaders of the Academy gave the motto "duty, honor, country" to the institution in 1898. They meant it as a rebuke to the men whom they saw as repudiating the oath they took upon graduating the Academy.
The exclusion has continued into the 20th century. In 1971, President Nixon visited the Academy and as part of his Southern strategy, demanded that a Confederate monument be erected. The commandant of West Point, General Knowlton, searched for a way to avoid this Presidential directive. Knowlton asked Percy Squire, the leader of the black cadets, how his men would react to the monument. Squire replied that the graduates who left for the South violated their oath and that black cadets would boycott a Confederate monument. From Squire's answer, Knowlton told Nixon's officials that a Confederate monument would hurt minority recruitment and cause dissension at the Academy. That ended any nascent effort to build a Confederate monument.
The only exception to that rule has been Robert E. Lee. Due to Southern political pressure, a portrait of Lee in Confederate gray was placed in the USMA Library.
To this day, the Civil War is contested at West Point and no Confederate monument has been erected.
It was an excellent lecture on what seemed would be a dry subject. Colonel Ty Seidule gave an excellent talk.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Missionary Ridge

Though it occurred yesterday in 1863, I cannot help but comment on it.

At the Battle of Missionary Ridge, Grant ordered the Army of the Cumberland to take the Confederate rifle positions at the bottom of the valley and then wait for additional orders. The troops assaulted those pits and took them. Facing enemy fire from the top of the ridge, Union officers and the soldiers themselves disobeyed Grant's orders and attacked the Confederate positions at the top of the ridge. They took those positions, sending Braxton Bragg's Army of the Tennessee into retreat.

Like many successes, this one laid the seed of trouble down the road. Among the officers who disobeyed Grant's orders was Lieutenant Arthur MacArthur. For his part in the successful assault, MacArthur received the Medal of Honor. He later fathered Douglas MacArthur. One lesson Arthur imparted to Douglas was the occasional need for a military man to disobey orders to achieve his objective. The younger MacArthur would follow this lesson as commander of UN forces in Korea, leading to his climactic confrontation with President Truman.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Civil War Joke-Abe's Furlough

President Lincoln received the following request for a furlough from a Union Army private. It shows the difference one word can make.

"Mr. President,

I have been in the service for a year and I request permission for a furlough of fifteen days to remove my family to the poorhouse."

Abraham Lincoln carefully pondered the request the request and granted it.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Civil War Joke-Gettysburg

On the eve of Picketts Charge on Day 3 of the Battle of Gettysburg, the division of Confederate general George Pickett rested in Spanglers Wood before being given the order to attack the Union lines in front of them.

Just before he rose from his resting place, a Confederate soldier saw a hare running to the rear.

The soldier commented,"If I was a little rabbit, I'd run away too."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, November 20, 2009

Civil War Joke

A soldier made the mistake of losing his bayonet. To compensate, he made one of wood until his next battle, where he hoped to get one off a dead soldier. Unfortunately for him, his commanding officer ordered an inspection. When confronted by his sergeant, he protested handing his new and improved bayonet over saying,"I swore to my father that I would not unsheath it unless I planned to kill with it." The officer demanded that he hand it over. The soldier gave it but looked toward the sky and intoned with a solemn voice,"May God turn this bayonet into wood for having broken my vow."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Military Rules Broken

Today in 1864, Sherman's army marched through Georgia toward Savannah. Instead of the traditional four man column on a road, Sherman's two wings stretched out widely over sixty miles. The force was spread thin and vulnerable to attack. Fortunately for Sherman, no formidable Confederate force was in the vicinity to oppose him. He violated not only marching procedure but that key military axiom: concentration of mass.

Lee joined Sherman in breaking the rules taught in the academies. Lee's famous division of his army at Chancellorsville defied all military logic yet it succeeded brilliantly.

However, only masters like Sherman and Lee could successfully pull off these violations of the rules. In 1879, Lord Chelmsford divided his forces when his British colonial army marched into Zulu territory in South Africa. The result was the Battle of Isahndlwarna, the first engagement where a non-European force defeated a colonial army. The American Army's spreading itself thin in Iraq partially led to the unraveling of that country by late 2006.

Only the best can break these rules. To paraphrase a French saying, even with technology, the more things change, the more they tend to stay the same.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How the Civil War Inspires Me

I have begun submitting my novel again to literary agents. I emailed several query letters on Sunday and received my first rejection email this evening. I've been down this road before so I expect it.

I have even designated words to myself when I get a rejection. They are, of course, from a mortally wounded Civil War soldier.

On his deathbed, the man said,"We will never give up."

I remembered those words when I first heard them in Ken Burns's Civil War documentary. As you can tell, they still ring in my ears. I will remember them during these hard times ahead when I look for an agent.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Power of Civil War Memory

My grandfather told me an interesting story the other day.

In the 1930's, (he is ninety-nine, God bless him), he made a trip to visit a cousin in Virginia. He is my maternal grandfather, descended from Polish Jews, who came to this country at the turn of the 20th century. His family came in dribs and drabs and one branch ended up in Virginia. My grandfather was born in Boston and raised largely in Brooklyn.

My grandfather kept up with that part of the family and made a visit. When his cousin introduced him to people, he told them,"This is my damn Yankee cousin from New York."

Think of it. These were first-generation Americans and sons of immigrants whose families had no connection to the Civil War. Yet, the memory lived on.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Civil War Joke-Robert E. Lee

This joke says a lot about the South's great general.

A man in Memphis goes to the top of a building and threatens to jump off.

A police negotiater is sent up to try and talk him down.

The negotiater says,"In the name of your wife and family, you should come down."

The man says,"I have no wife and family."

The negotiater tries another tack. "Then in the name of your church, you should come down."

"I have no church."

The negotiater sighs and tries a final gambit. "In the name of Robert E. Lee, you should come down."

"Who is Robert E. Lee?"

Incensed, the negotiater tells him,"Jump, you damned Yankee! Jump!"
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Salute You

First, tell me if you can guess who the Civil War soldier is. I'm sure there are many of you out there who can.
Since today is Veterans Day, I think they deserve a tribute. To the veterans past and present, I have only four words: thank you for everything.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Confederate Captain Enters Friendly Territory

On this day in 1862, Commander Maury of the Confederate Navy entered friendly Canada. The captain took his ship from Bermuda to Halifax, Nova Scotia. When he brought his vessel to port, he discovered the Confederate flag being flown from a seaside hotel for an entire day in his and his crew's honor. He never knew he had such good allies.

The Canadians must have wished the North much ill. We had only invaded them twice before.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, November 9, 2009

The President and the Actor

Today in 1863, President Lincoln went to the theater tonight with his wife. Despite his wishes, they saw a melodrama called "Marble Heart." One of the stars of American theater played one of the lead roles. His name was John Wilkes Booth.

Don't you just love the irony in that situation?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New York Civil War Site-Home of the New York Confederate

This is the home of an ardent New York Confederate. His name was Roger Pryor and he served as a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. Prior to the war, he served as a diplomat to Greece in 1854 and later founded a newspaper called The South in which he advocated an ardently pro-secession position.
When the war came, he was elected to the Confederate Congress but left politics to serve as colonel in the 3rd Virginia Infantry. He earned a promotion to brigadier general and fought in the Peninsula Campaign and at Second Manassas. During Antietam, he took command of Anderson's Division inside Longstreet's Corps when Major General Richard Anderson suffered a wound.
In an action duplicated by several Confederate generals, he quarreled with Jefferson Davis over his wish for higher command. He resigned his commission and his brigade was dismantled. In August 1863, he rejoined the army as a private in General Fitzhugh Lee's Virginia cavalry regiment. Union forces captured him on November 28, 1864. Lincoln released him on parole and he came back to Virginia.
In 1865, poverty compelled him to move himself and his family to New York City. Using his prior law degree, he established a prosperous law firm with the hated "Beast" Benjamin Butler. Becoming a respected member of the bar, he was appointed as a judge of the New York Court of Common Pleas from 1890 to 1894 and then later served as a justice of the New York Supreme Court from 1894 to 1899.
The picture above is on 157 Willow Street in Brooklyn Heights. A quick subway trip across the East River will get you there. Pryor's home looked like the brownstones across the street. The apartment complex you see above is of more recent construction but come and see the home of New York City's Confederate. Pryor was a symbol of how some people truly reconciled with their enemies after the war.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Command Changes

During the Civil War, 'tis was the season for command changes. Like a baseball team in the off-season, it was time to hire or promote new management. Since the armies were generally in winter quarters during this time of the year, the timing was appropriate.

The North and the South both made some big changes. Yesterday in 1862, Lincoln replaced McClellan with Ambrose Burnside to lead the Army of the Potomac. Today in the same year, Longstreet became a lieutenant general and head of the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. Stonewall Jackson also rose in the ranks to head the Second Corps of Lee's army.

Of course, we all know the results of the change in the Union's command. Winter was the season when the civilian leadership hoped to get the commanders in the right places. Unfortunately, Lincoln felt the need to change his head coach many times. Even when he found a good general manager (Grant), it could be argued that he did not find a dynamic coach for the Army of the Potomac until Phil Sheridan. It took four winters and the beginning of the regular season for that army to reach the necessary level of leadership.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, November 6, 2009

Civil War Joke-Definition of Bravery

Obviously, the experience of war altered peacetime views about courage and bravery.

After suffering the hardships of battle, a Civil War soldier said,"A brave soldier is a compassionate enemy."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Civil War Joke-Fixing the Bugler

During the winters, Civil War soldiers, possibly to sleep later, would play a trick on the bugler. During the nights, they would fill his bugle with water. By the morning, it would freeze and the bugler would not be able to wake them up until the instrument thawed out.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, November 2, 2009

New York Civil War Site: Abe Lincoln's Anti-Slavery Church

Yes, Lincoln visited here. He came to New York to deliver his Cooper Union speech except, as I mentioned in a previous post, he was originally invited to speak in Henry Ward Beecher's Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. Above is a picture of the pew where he sat on February 26, 1860. He delivered his speech at Cooper Union and returned to sit and worship in the balcony two weeks later.
The church itself has an interesting history. Built in 1849 in Brooklyn Heights, it seated over 2,000 people. Its chief preacher was Henry Ward Beecher, depicted in a statue above. Though not an abolitionist, he was anti-slavery. He held fourteen slave auctions in which money was raised to free bondsmen in the South. The church was also a way station on the Underground Railroad. From here, church members ferried slaves up to New England by ship or overland. It is speculated that slaves were hidden in the church basement. In addition, church members concealed slaves in storerooms inside their own homes.
As mentioned before, though Brooklyn was not yet officially a part of New York City, the two cities were closely linked economically. New York was pro-slavery due to its close ties with the South. The city shipped goods southward and held the mortgages and loans made to many Southerners. Hence, being anti-slavery in Brooklyn in the years prior to war was anything but popular. The churchgoers also defied the Fugitive Slave Law in hiding and transporting bondsmen.
Henry Ward Beecher's Plymouth Church can be visited by a quick hop on the subway across the East River into Brooklyn.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

New York Civil War Site: Our Most Valuable Swede

During the Civil War, a Swedish inventor saved the Union from disaster. His name was John Ericsson and he designed the ironclad ship, the Monitor.

A statue of him lies in the midst of Battery Park in downtown Manhattan. You can see it on your way to visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Being the weaker side in raw power, the Confederacy more readily adopted technological advances in military weaponry to nullify the Union's clear strength in numbers and armaments. To counter the Federal Navy, the South developed the CSS Virginia, an ironclad naval vessel. The Confederates unleashed this new weapon and it soon sunk two wooden naval ships in the Federal blockading squadron off Hampton Roads, Virginia.

The Federals had received prior word of this threat and through Lincoln's intervention, the Ironclad Board in Washington gave John Ericsson a contract for $270,000. The Board provided it on a monthly basis and told him that he would have to return the money if he disliked the terms (imagine trying to set such a contract today). In addition, since it was during a war, time was of the essence.

Ericsson developed the ship in a record 100 days at the Continental Iron Works in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. He and other engineers placed two guns on a revolving turret. With the ship ready in such a short time, it sailed down to Virginia to join the beleaguered blockade squadron in southern Virginia.

On March 6, 1862, ironclad met ironclad. In a day-long battle, the ships fought to a draw. A round from the CSS Virginia hit the hull of the ship and blinded the Monitor's captain. A falling tide also compelled the Virginia to withdraw.

Without the Monitor, the Virginia might have sailed up to Washington and begun a bombardment. The Monitor saved the Union from military disaster. That is why John Ericsson was our most valuable Swede.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New York Civil War Site: Cooper Union

This past weekend, I visited the Cooper Union hall with a number of other Civil War buffs. It was here that Lincoln gave his famous speech that made him a candidate for President.

The tour guide related a number of interesting facts. First, the college had not invited Lincoln to speak there. He had originally been invited to speak at Henry Ward Beecher's Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. Cooper Union is located across the East River in downtown Manhattan. Brooklyn was a separate city at that time. The Brooklyn Bridge had not yet been built. The organizers feared that it would snow, causing the river to freeze. At that time, the only means to Manhattan from Brooklyn were steamboat or foot. Contrary to most accounts, our guide pointed out that it did not snow. There was fear of snow.

Lincoln stood on the stage and delivered his speech with 1,500 people in attendance. The audience members paid a sizable sum, twenty-five cents, to attend. You know that the audience must have been composed primarily of middle class and well-off individuals.

Though he was a wealthy attorney at the time, Lincoln wore a rumpled suit. He had not given sufficient attention to his grooming.

He also thought little about the speech after delivering it. He wrote to his wife that he had no trouble delivering the speech. It reminds one about Lincoln's reaction after delivering the Gettysburg Address.

As a midwestern lawyer, he was little known in the East. After the Cooper Union speech, he acquired a national reputation.

The most famous phrase in the speech is "right makes might." However, Lincoln also made an interesting statement about the South's attitude prior to the war.

He said,"Your purpose, then plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events." (emphasis added)

Whether you agree with that view or not, that is what happened. The South ruled over itself and then suffered ruin. The Cooper Union speech not only created a presidential candidate. It was prophetic.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Civil War Joke-The Rooster on the Hill

As many of you may know, The South won most of the battles in the beginning and middle of the Civil War.

To use a sports analogy, the Southerners enjoyed a home field advantage. They fought for their own country and on their native soil.

Southerners described this situation by saying,"A rooster fights best on his own hill."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, October 26, 2009

Civil War Joke-Too Much To Do

I'm sure there are some of you who have had too many duties thrust on your shoulders.

Civil War officers faced the same problem.

When a commander gave an officer too many duties, the poor man would tell his friends,"I have too many buttons on my coat."

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Civil War Wit-Abraham Lincoln

And now, another zinger from the President.

Abraham Lincoln was generally a patient man. However, certain events, mostly the actions of his generals, caused his temper to flare.

General George McClellan seemed to specialize in irritating his President.

After the Battle of Antietam, McClellan concerned himself with the administrative details in his army. In one telegram to the War Department, he lamented that the horses in the Army of the Potomac suffered from fatigue and endured sore tongues.

In exasperation, Lincoln fired back,"General, what have the horses done since the Battle of Antietam to fatigue anything?"
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Latschar To Go

I feel like playing that music from the tail end of the The Wizard of Oz, "Ding Dong, the Witch is dead." Except in this case, the Witch is going to be reassigned.

On Monday, John Latschar will be leaving his position as Superintendant of Gettysburg National Park. He will be given a desk job in the National Park Service. I guess this is what passes for accountability in the federal government. I wonder if his "desk job" will pay him his current $145,000 salary. If so, I want his new job. They could pay me $200 per sheet. I'll ask for $100 a page to print from the computer.

You get a sense of the vanity of politicians and federal officials from Latschar's departing statement. "Strangely enough, right now, in addition to the sorrow for the grief I've caused friends and family, I'm feeling almost a sense of relief. I've spent the last 21 years of my life in the public arena, where everything I say or do is considered fair game."

Oh please. Running Gettysburg National Park is important. Being the Gettysburg superintendant matters because that individual safeguards a vital part of our national heritage. However, it's not as if he's the president or an electoral officeholder. No one searched his trash for a piece of his private life. Pundits on cable TV did not scrutinize his every policy move. Comedians on late night TV did not write jokes about his sex life. It is because he imported his sex life, or the lack thereof, into his working hours that he is out of a job.

My advice to him is to confine his Internet porn search to his private hours.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why John Latschar Should Go

Yesterday, I posted, in my own sarcastic way, about why John Latschar should go. I've read the opinions of some who think he should stay and I simply don't agree.

His behavior is simply unacceptable in any job. If he surfed the Net for porn at a private sector job, he would have been axed. Some have mentioned that he's done a wonderful job at preserving Gettysburg National Park. That is true. However, if I were the top trial attorney at my firm and I was caught looking for porn or doing online trading, I would still be fired. It would be excusable if he made a nonprofessional Internet search like looking at the news or booking a hotel reservation once in a while. That would be understandable. He downloaded no less than 3400 images. That is a pattern of behavior and it should not be tolerated.

In addition, Latschar should face a higher standard because he is working at a government job. We are paying for his follies. The man is making $145,000 a year. We the taxpayers should be subsidizing his extracurricular activites during his working hours? I say no and I'm sure most people would agree with me.

John Latschar should resign or be dismissed. Even in the federal government, there should be some accountability for personal behavior.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

John Latschar-The Defenses

If John Latschar, the superintendent of Gettysburg National Park, needs a defense, it's right now. The man was just cited for downloading over 3,400 pornographic images on his work computer.

If this case went to trial, let's try to imagine what his defense lawyer would say. This is where creative lawyering comes into play.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, yes, my client downloaded Internet porn. However, it was Civil War Internet porn. That's right. He downloaded those images to help us understand a little-known aspect of the conflict. How can you fault my client for attempting to make the Gettysburg viewing experience even more meaningful?"

Then, we get to his attorney's second line of defense.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the prosecution has introduced evidence that my client actually downloaded contemporary porn. That is also true. Nevertheless, once again, his conduct goes back to the Civil War. He was doing a comparative study of contemporary and Civil War pornography."

Sounds a bit absurd, but sometimes a lawyer has to protect the guilty. Folks, I sincerely hope the recession will end at Gettysburg National Park and a superintendant's job will open up very soon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Civil War Joke-Slippery Bacon

At times, rations for Civil War soldiers arrived in an inedible form. Bacon proved no exception to the problem. The troops coined the above-mentioned term for bacon that was so rotten, it could only be used to ignite a camp fire.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lynda Crist-Civil War Talk on Jefferson Davis

On Wednesday night, I heard an interesting talk about Jefferson Davis. Lynda Crist, the editor of the Jefferson Davis Association, delivered the short lecture to our weekly meeting at the New York Civil War Roundtable. Ms. Crist has spent much of her working life studying and editing the papers of the Confederate President.

Naturally, she delivered some interesting tidbits about him that I never knew. First, I was never aware of what she called "his ecumenical spirit." He counted two Jews, Alfred Mordechai and Judah Benjamin, among his closest friends. His religious tolerance also extended to Catholics and he even sent one of his daughters to a Catholic boarding school. He held these attitudes at a time when there was no requirement to be tolerant of anyone.

Ms. Crist characterized Davis as a "micromanager." She explained his diversion into the minutiaie of government as one of his few means of affecting the course of affairs.

Ms. Crist constantly used the phrase "He knew" when she talked about his relationships with the key military figures in the Confederacy. Due to his period in the US Army and in politics, he had formed relationships with almost all of the subsequent Confederate military leaders. I asked her if that familiarity was a detriment to his leadership. She made the interesting point that Davis had no choice but to draw on that familiarity because he had to form a new government and army in a matter of months.

She also described Davis as a dazzling story teller in private. Until now, I had a hard time imagining him as a dazzling anything. However, she has read his papers. I'll take her word on it.

In addition, her lecture provided an interesting revelation into Davis's attitude toward public service. She mentioned that he was not happy as a politician yet he persevered in public life for years. Obviously, he was from the planter class in his state and felt a duty to serve, even if he didn't enjoy it. This is in stark contrast to people today. If we don't like our work or career, we change jobs or vocations.

Overall, Ms. Crist gave myself and the members of the Roundtable some new insight into the man. As a person who grew up learning that Davis was the Antichrist serving the Devil, it was interesting to see him as a decent man whose cause you or may not agree with.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Deal for the Battle of Franklin land

The prospective deal to buy the Dominoes Pizza and the Four Star Market on land where the Battle of Franklin was fought presents the way forward for historical preservation.

The days when the federal government will cordon off huge tracts of land (ex. Gettysburg) for eternity are long gone. Now, governments are hungry for the jobs and tax money coming from development. That is why the potential deal by the Franklin's Charge organization in Tennessee and similar work done by the CWPT are very important. Further historical preservation will henceforward be the preserve of private groups. Organizations like the CWPT will always be in a race with or against developers. Governments will either be neutral powers or antagonists (ex. the Wilderness Wal Mart).

When government does get involved, economic arguments will have to predominate. The Franklin's Charge people have it right. They are presenting their purchase as a means of promoting "heritage tourism." That is the argument we will have to use in all future preservation battles. Pleas to preserve our history will simply be swamped by the forces of development and consumption. The vast majority of people live in the very present and you can't eat or purchase history. We have to use monetary arguments to defeat the power of money.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Curse of the General

I have begun reading Robert Hicks's A Separate Country.

I could not help but notice that like many of other Civil War generals, the main character, General John Bell Hood, failed in his postwar business. Hood had his money stolen by his business partners. The same fate befell Ulysses S. Grant. Nathan Bedford Forrest failed in his railway venture. General Pemberton, who commanded the Confederate defenses at Vicksburg, could not run his farm successfully. The one exception to this failure at entrepreneurship was P.T. Beauregard.

I once heard a line about cops that could possibly be applied to generals. I once heard it said,"When you've been a cop for this long, you're not fit to do anything else." It is very hard to make the adjustment from being an individual whose words are immediately obeyed to being person who has to attract the obeisance of others. I think what is true for many cops is also true for most generals. Going into business for yourself is often too great a stretch.

Hood should have done what Lee and Joseph Johnston did: work for someone else. Poor Hood suffered the curse of the general.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Greenback Raid

If I had lived on this day in 1864, I would have joined Mosby's Rangers. People had creative ways of making money during the Civil War. Merchants traded with the enemy, Union soldiers and officers plundered cotton plantations and Northern factory owners sold shoddy goods. However, Mosby and his men carried out their Greenback Raid.
On this day, Mosby's Rangers tore out the tracks to a railway at a site between northwestern and West Virginia. The next train to arrive derailed. The Confederates were overjoyed when they realized that they had struck the train carrying the wages of Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah. They absconded with $173,000 and burned the train.
I am going by the date listed in the Civil War Interactive. Some list October 14th as the date of the raid, but I'll go by the Interactive date. I stand corrected if mistaken.
If only my ancestors had come to America during the Civil War. They could have joined the Rangers and we would have been Old Money by now.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Civil War Joke-Password

During the Civil War, failure to utter the required password could prove to be a menace to man or beast.

Hungry soldiers often pillaged outlying farms during times of shortage. An officer entered camp and smelled a roasted pig over a fire. When he asked which soldiers had stolen it, a corporal snapped to attention.

He said,"Sir, I was on picket duty when I heard a sound. I demanded the password and when I only got an oink in return, I shot him. I planned to bring him to your quarters for a court martial.".

The officer made a sly grin and told the corporal,"Bring a part of him and I'll pronounce a partial sentence."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Off Topic: Rare Foray into Politics, I Swear

In response to the President's new policy of targeting Al Qaeda alone in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden has issued his official response.

"Cave#462, drone missile-free zone, Pakistan. Brothers, I am sick of people usurping our brand. Now everyone thinks they're from Al Qaeda. I mean, we have franchisees and all, but this is ridiculous. When you go to your sales territories in Afghanistan, I want you wearing your Al Qaeda T-shirts, effective immediately. Everyone, including the Americans, should know who we are. Shirts will be issued at the corporate retreat in Cave#321. We must resist the new threat to the global jihad: brand dilution. This is one of those rare moments when I agree with those infidel Americans. When we set up our global caliphate, we're going to have good intellectual property protection."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Definition for the Fog of War

Civil War soldiers had a new definition for the term "fog of war."

They defined as the state of confusion that overcomes an officer at the beginning of a battle.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Wonder of Diaries

I am reading an excellent Civil War journal as part of the research for my third novel. The title is A Yankee Spy in Richmond: The Civil War Diary of "Crazy Bet" Van Lew.

I've expounded before on the joy of primary sources and this book proves my theory. As you may know, Elizabeth Van Lew was a native-born Richmonder who was a very effective spy for the Union. Her diary does a great job of describing the state of mind and conditions in wartime Richmond. The descriptions of the mood of Richmonders, especially the women, at the time of secession, are excellent. She also recounts the starvation and shortages that grip the city as the war progresses.

For those who want to understand the thoughts and emotions of the people in wartime Richmond, this book is an excellent place to start.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Joke-Rutherford Hayes

Though this joke was not told during the Civil War, it was made about a veteran of the Civil War: President Rutherford B. Hayes.

The President was a temperance man and would not allow alcohol to be served in the White House. At his first reception, the staff did not serve intoxicating beveridges. A Washington wit said,"The water flowed like wine."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lincoln-A Poetic Opera-A Review

This weekend, my wife and I headed to the Upper West Side in Manhattan to see Lincoln-A Poetic Opera. It was a world premiere and we and the rest of the audience were the first to see it. (Please excuse the blurriness of the pictures. We weren't allowed and my wife had to take this picture on the sly.)

The name of the piece is a misnomer. An opera is a series of musical pieces linked by a loose (often very loose) story line. There is no such common thread here. A more accurate name for this piece should have been Lincoln-The Choral Work. As the composer George Andoniadis stated in his notes, it was a true meditation on our President.

The soloists Timothy Bentch and Elizabeth Racheva gave good performances as the First Couple. They delivered their vocal parts with grace and skill like the experienced opera singers that they are. Ms. Racheva also acted well as the concerned Mary Todd Lincoln when her husband recounts the dream of his assassination. The Manhattan Choral Ensemble also did a fine job as the chorus in the work. The organizers picked the concern venue very well. The Holy Trinity Church was an excellent concern setting. The acoustics were fantastic as we heard the soloists' voices reverberated through the building's dome.

The music was strong. The piece started with an excellent violin solo. Lincoln's recounting of his dream is haunting and dramatic. The best portion of the piece is the Praying, set to the words of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. There is also a lovely duet at the end between the character Eternity and Lincoln.

Despite the strength of the music, my chief criticism is the content of the piece. There is absolutely no sense of Lincoln the individual. The man of vision, determination and wit is lost in this piece. The composer focuses excessively on his martyrdom. The words of the libretto reinforce this sense of doom. In one portion, Lincoln sings, "I think we are near the end at last." The music and the choral works make it sound as if the President's death was preordained. We all know that it wasn't. Given the relentless melancholy of the work, it should have been called a Requiem for Lincoln.

Though the music is well-done, Lincoln-A Poetic Opera does not do true justice to Lincoln the man.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Civil War Joke-Zinger from Old Abe

This one is from President Lincoln himself. When he heard about the capture of General Stoughton by the Confederate cavalry leader John Mosby, the President took note of the fact that the other side had also commandeered almost sixty well-bred steeds. He remarked,"I'm sorry for that. I can make generals. I can't make horses."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Further Thoughts on the Wilderness Lawsuit

Like both sides during the Civil War, the historical preservationists are in for the long haul in this case. They brought their suit in the Orange County Circuit Court. As a lawyer practicing in the local courthouses in New York City, I can tell you that these places are often mills of political patronage. The judges are often political hacks in black robes.

I would not expect too much justice in that courthouse. I'm sure that some Orange County politician will place a phone call to the judge assigned and try to influence the outcome. The county will try to paint the case as a matter of outsiders intruding on internal affairs. The only justice the historical preservationists will get is in the appellate court.

Like the fighting in the Civil War, be ready for a long, hard slog.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Rose Greenhow

Today in 1864, Rose Greenhow, perhaps the most famous of Confederate spies drowned in the Atlantic Ocean today. On a mission from Europe, her ship, the runner Condor ran aground while being pursued by a US warship. She took a small boat and that too capsized. Weighed down by a bag of gold tied around her neck that she smuggled from Europe, this pre-war grande dame of Washington society drowned.

Using her medley of connections in pre-war Washington, she obtained secret information about the movement of General McDowell's army and passed it on to Southern authorities, making it possible for the Confederacy to win the first battle of Bull Run.

There are two good introductory books that tell the story of Rose Greenhow's adventures. They are Alan Axelrod's The War Between the Spies and Harnett Kane's Spies for the Blue and Gray. I read the first book as part of my research for my second novel and I am currently reading the second book for my research for the third novel. Though not definitive, they give you a basic outline of Greenhow's espionage activities during the war.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Think of Them

Henry Livermore Abbott joined the 20th Massachussetts Regiment right out of Harvard. He formed part of the group of officers that commanded the "Harvard" Regiment. Abbott fought in most of the major battles in the Virginia theater: Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and finally, the Wilderness. He was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness while taking temporary command of his regiment. Henry Abbott was twenty-two years-old.

I mention it because today was a small run-off election here in New York. We have over eight million people in New York City. It is estimated that only three hundred thousand people will come and out and vote.

When the voting days come each year, I think of the men like Henry Abbott. These men volunteered to sacrifice years and then their lives for our country. We have a country because of them. If I get annoyed that I have to go out and vote, I remember him and the others. I also recall the men and women serving right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are giving so much. Surely, we can give so little.

My friends, the Civil War should not only be an enjoyment, but a reminder and an inspiration. I do not want to let down our men, alive or dead.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Civil War Joke-Free Whiskey

A continually drunk Civil War soldier told the comrades in his platoon that he would renounce drinking. His fellow soldiers tested his resolve by teasing him and plying him with whiskey. Each night, he fell off the wagon. He would wake up in the morning in repentance and preaching about the evils of drinking. Each day, the result was the same.

Finally, one of his fellow soldiers asked him why he didn't just stop drinking and end the preaching.

He replied,"What and give up all that free whiskey?"
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Walmart Lawsuit: Potential Victory

The current lawsuit brought against Orange County might lay the seeds for ultimate victory in protecting the Wilderness battle site from Wal Mart.

As a lawyer, I can tell you that this suit might drag for a year or two. With the discovery or document exchange between both sides, the case could last for a while. Once discovery is complete, either or both sides will file motions for summary judgment to try and get the case dismissed. One side will dislike that outcome and appeal. Once the motions are resolved, both sides will face the inevitable trial. This could go on forever.

This lawsuit is the ultimate delaying tactic. However, in war, antagonists often take steps to buy time. By the time this case gets resolved, there could be a settlement or Wal Mart could throw up its hands and give up on the store or accept the proposed alternative site.

This is a good move by the historic preservationists. The ball is now in the County and Wal Mart's court.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, September 25, 2009

Davis-Mending Fences

Today in 1864, Jefferson Davis had to play the role of peacemaker. After suffering a string of defeats at the hands of General Sherman, General John Hood blamed his failures on his underlings. He reserved most of his ire for General William Hardee. Tensions grew in his army to such a boiling point that Davis felt the need to visit the Army of Tennessee's camp to smooth out the tensions.

This behavior was not confined to the Confederates. After his failure at Second Bull Run, John Pope had his subordinate general Fitz Hugh Porter arrested and courtmartialed. Human nature knows no nationality or accent.

That is why Robert E. Lee's behavior after Gettysburg was so remarkable. After the failure of Picketts Charge, he blamed himself saying,"It is all my fault." He refused to seek scapegoats and offered his resignation to Jefferson Davis. For all of you who have spent any time in the workforce, you know that acceptance of responsibility is a rare quality.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Civil War Joke-A New Method for Expressing Disrespect

A soldier in the Civil War invented a new way for showing his lack of respect for an officer with a wax mustache.

He told his officer,"Take those mice out of your mouth. I can see their tails."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Civil War Joke-Cowardice

The Confederate soldiers had a novel term for cowardice. When one of their comrades exhibited signs of it, they said,"He has a case of Yankee chills."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fort Monroe-The Future

Historical preservationists like the CWPT should consider another option concerning Fort Monroe. Perhaps they should try buying the land.

It has worked at other sites. The CWPT just announced the purchase of land on the Third Winchester battle site. It bought the land for historical sites in Tennessee. It should consider such a plan for Fort Monroe.

Such an idea should be drawn up and put into action within the next year. It should be placed before the Hampton City Council before the Army leaves in 2011. Before commercial and real estate interests overrun all else, like at the Wilderness Wal Mart.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fort Monroe-The Next Historic Preservation Battle

In September 2011, the United States Army will leave Fort Monroe in Virginia and control of the site will revert to the state. The battle for preservation will then ensue.

Fort Monroe played a strategic role during the Civil War. Though located in Virginia, it remained an important Union base. From the fort, Union forces launched their campaign to take parts of the Carolina coasts. The Army of the James formed at the fort. Benjamin Butler made his decision not to return escaped slaves back to Confederate custody at the fort. Jefferson Davis spent his two years of imprisonment there after the war. The place has clear historical value.

However, as we've learned from the loss at the Wilderness, historical heritage may not be able to compete with shopping and development. It is very important for historical preservationists to launch a public relations campaign to win over the local people. The ultimate decision will rest with the Hampton City Council. These politicians will not turn over the site for commercial use if the voters do not want it. Our task must be to prevail with the local people. All else will follow.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Civil War Joke-Courage Inhibitors

Civil War soldiers faced many obstacles to their continued good health. Here is what they had to say about cannonballs.

A whistling cannonball can dampen a soldier's courage.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Pleasures of Civil War Letters

This post was inspired by an article in Blog Divided about a set of letters written by the men in a Wisconsin regiment.

Letters by soldiers and their wives are a great source of enjoyment and entertainment. I realized this when I went to Richmond to research my second novel in 2005. I visited the archives of the Beth Ahavah synagogue. The archivists allowed me to read the letters between a Jewish Confederate soldier and his wife. The soldier told his wife that he could not get leave. Noting the presence of men visiting from the army in her neighborhood, she replied, "Maybe you're not that smart." I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

So Civil War letters are not only sources of history but of spousal jousting and entertainment as well.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fremont and the Union

John Fremont, the Pathfinder, did his part today in 1864 to save the Union. I suppose I could talk about Antietam but it's hard to say anything original about that battle. Perhaps I'll make an attempt next year.

Fremont withdrew his candidacy for the Presidency. Though he hated Lincoln for removing him from his military command, he opted out of the race because of his cited fear that a victory for McClellan would mean the division of the country or the reestablishment of the Union with slavery. If he had run, the Republican vote would have been split and McClellan might have won, with catastrophic effects for the country. I'm sure Fremont must have been pressured behind the scenes to take this step. After all, we are discussing politics here. However, Fremont put his ego aside and did what was best for America.

That is a lesson for our politicians today. You look at our political class's self-serving behavior prior to this economic crisis and see how little they care about us. They should take a glance at today's Civil War history and learn something.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Civil War Joke-Private Pyle Thinks....

Today's joke provides the enlisted men's unvarnished opinion of their officers.

Soldiers in the Civil War armies gave a unique name to their officers' shoulder bars. Pumpkin rinds.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Habeas Suspendus

Today in 1863, President Lincoln suspended the habeas corpus on the grounds that the country faced a military rebellion. He authorized military commanders to arrest suspicious individuals at their discretion. That was a sad day. A time-honored tradition necessary to the protection of the citizen was temporarily set aside.

Though it was a necessity, the Civil War teaches us that it should only be a temporary act in times of national emergency. The suspension of habeas corpus should not be a permanent state of affairs.

Though this verges into the present, I don't think we should have preventative detention like in Britain or Israel. Though the government can hold a suspect for 72 hours without charges, it must present its evidence to a court after three days. I also think that a suspect should go through the criminal courts if he or she is a citizen or a green card holder. They have rights and those should be honored. We are going to be fighting the terrorists for a very long time and the government should be required to do its legal homework. You have to remember that a government often serves itself. It is also rather inept at times.

Obviously, this is a very controversial topic. I'd like to hear other people's views on the topic.

You see how the past can lead you to the present.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, September 14, 2009

Shore Leave or Not to Shore Leave?

For a famous character in Shakespeare, the question was "To be or not to be." For the crew of the USS Rattler, the question was more prosaic.

For reasons that went unrecorded, a group of twenty sailors from the ship went on leave in Rodney, Mississippi. Unlike most servicemen on leave, the group headed for the local church. As they sat in services, a Confederate cavalry patrol entered the church and captured them all.

The Civil War has much to teach us. This day in 1863 was no exception. Today's lesson is never to go on shore leave in enemy territory.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Civil War Joke-A Young Man's Courage

This one must have been invented by a veteran commenting on his green comrades-in-arms.

A young soldier does not see danger until it is time for him to die.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, September 11, 2009

Civil War Joke-Rules of Engagement

The soldiers on both sides of our Civil War observed a key rule of engagement: No shooting at a soldier in the midst of relieving himself.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dangerous Speech

On this day in 1863, freedom of the press took a major drubbing in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Confederate troops, irate over pro-Union editorials in the Raleigh Standard, went to the offices of the paper and ransacked them. Only the personal intervention of Governor Vance prevented the torching of the building.

On the same day, another crowd in Raleigh, angry over the strident yet pro-secessionist editorials of the Raleigh Journal, attacked the offices of that paper. The governor again had to employ his peacemaking services and the crowd left.

As 21st-century people, we should applaud the fact that no opinion was left out and that all were included. The people and soldiers in Raleigh embraced diversity in destruction.

In our time, critics of the current and previous Administrations have been left unmolested even though we have been and are at war in two countries. We have progressed as a democracy.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thank You All

This morning, Civil War Et. Al. reached 11,895 hits. Thank you all for taking the time to visit. I will continue to provide good content that will illuminate the great story of our nation's Civil War.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Civil War Joke-Drugs

Civil War soldiers were among the original skeptics about drugs and their effectiveness. This joke reflects that skepticism.

Drugs can make you the person you want be, but no drug can make you the person you used to be.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Confederacy-A Lesson to Us

On this date in 1861, Jefferson Davis confessed to General Joseph Johnston the true weakness of the Confederacy at that time.

After several lines giving moral support to his commander, Davis told Johnston, "Had I the requisite arms, the argument would soon be changed."

Despite this confessed lack of strength, the Confederacy survived for over another three and a half years. The South's endurance in the face of Union superiority is a testament to doing more with less. It seems that the only true resources that the Confederates had were the courage of their men and the skill of their generals. Their survival was a triumph of the moral over the material.

This is a lesson to us in these difficult times. With determination, much can be done even in situations where there is a dearth of resources.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Civil War Deterrence

On this day in 1863, our ambassador to Britain, Charles Francis Adams, threatened the British Empire with war.

By that time, British shipyards had nearly completed three ironclad ships ordered by Confederate agents.

Facing this potential change in the Civil War's naval balance of power, Adams issued his warning. It was probably not a credible threat. Embroiled by our own civil war, we were probably not in a position to inflict much harm on the British. There is no evidence that the English were in any way intimidated.

However, the British foreign minister, Lord Russell, assured Adams that the ships had already been impounded three days before.

I have always felt that history provides lessons for the present and even the future.

Secretary of State William Seawrd had delivered threats of war to the British prior to Adams' warning. This blackmail, however baseless, showed the leaders in London that there would be trouble with the U.S. if it helped the Confederacy.

This belligerent diplomacy, coupled with President Lincoln's political skill (the Emancipation Proclamation) prevented the British from providing any kind of diplomatic or material aid to the South throughout the war.

This episode teaches us that the ideology of peace will not produce peace, or national security for that matter. Only the politically astute application of diplomacy, backed by a willingness to use force, can create a more peaceful world. We now call it deterrence.

What is your view?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, September 4, 2009

Civil War Joke#3-Euphemism

Civil War soldiers had a useful name for a coffin. They called it a wooden overcoat.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Beat the Recession: Audition at Gettysburg

For actors, the National Park Service has found a way to fight the recession.

It is auditioning next Tuesday for a 15-minute film about the merits of historical preservation. The segment will be called "Big Deal at Gettysburg: The Value of Historical Places." The story will concern a hard-charging businesswoman who must decide to develop historical land or leave it to posterity. The Park Service estimates that the film will eventually be seen by 10 million schoolchildren.

If only the Orange County Board of Supervisors had such ethics in the Wilderness.

But I digress. This film might have a good influence on schoolchildren. Hell, the drug education videos scared me away from doing drugs. Children who see this video may grow into adults who value history.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

State of Jones Controversy

I think the bad reviews are not going to stop The State of Jones from becoming a bestseller.

People are not going to care about the scholarly deficiencies in the book. They will get absorbed by the interesting story. Like the novel A Million Little Pieces, readers will enjoy the "truthiness" of it. Hollywood will pick it up and make a movie and that will drive sales even more. Above all, history is a good story. In addition to its supreme importance, that is the reason we all became interested in the Civil War.

The story behind State of Jones, though inaccurate, will sweep all before it.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, August 31, 2009

Civil War Joke#2-Beware the Civilians

Military people have throughout history felt a contempt for civilians. I believe that feeling is reflected in this joke.

When given kindness, a soldier will respond with kindness. A civilian, when given kindness, will respond with treason.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Longstreet: Unfairly Maligned

Since today is the anniversary of the third day of Second Bull Run or Manassas, it is fitting to discuss General James Longstreet's role in it.

On the third day of the battle, his corps launched the largest mass attack of the war, 25,000 men, and broke General Pope's army on the Bull Run battlefield. This assault overshadowed Picketts Charge by 10,000 men.

Longstreet prevailed upon Lee to delay launching the attack until the afternoon of August 30th. On three prior occasions, Longstreet and his staff persuaded Lee to wait for more advantageous conditions. At one point, Longstreet's corps would have had to assault the fortified position on the Warrenton Turnpike. He launched his attack at 4pm on Day 3 of the battle, causing a rout of the Union Army.

Advocates of the Lost Cause, especially the Lee biographer Douglas Southall Freeman, argue that the seeds for the disaster at Gettysburg were laid at Second Manassas. They point to the fact that Longstreet was able to persuade Lee from attacking earlier than was done.

This argument presupposes that Lee was infallible. Robert E. Lee was a great general but he made mistakes. The attack on Day 3 of Gettysburg was a failure of military judgment. On the other hand, Longstreet's attack on the third day of Second Bull Run succeeded because he sent his men forward under favorable conditions. Longstreet clearly did not believe in assault for its own sake. I think he was maligned partially because of his stands during Reconstruction.

His assault on this day in 1862 was an impressive achievement.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lesson from the Walmart in the Wilderness

Walmart's victory in obtaining its permit last Monday is a lesson for historical preservationists.

I noted something very interesting about the comments of the local people at the hearing. Many of them clearly supported the opening of the superstore. One woman said,"Many people call us dumb shoppers so let us have a Walmart." It's seems clear that many if not most of the local people wanted the new store. I get the sense that many of the people who opposed were from outside Orange County.

I don't think that the Board of Supervisors would have voted in favor of the permit if the majority of their constituents opposed it.

This is a lesson for historical preservation battles in the future.
It is good to get petitions signed and protests made but it is more important to win over the local people. Public relations campaigns should be launched. People need to be convinced that it is better to have a historical site and a nature preserve than just another store. Billboards should be purchased, flyers should be distributed in malls and shopping centers and Internet mailings sent. The people living there must be won over. Enlightened and educated outsiders are only a beginning. The people on the ground are the key.

This is what we must take from this setback.

I'm curious to hear what you think about what has happened and what could be learned. Please give me your views.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, August 28, 2009

Second Bull Run-A Strategic Victory

On this day in 1862, the Second Bull Run or Manassas battle began. Though it was an important Southern victory, I think it was largely a tactical one.

Second Bull Run did not change the strategic balance of power in the war. Basically, the North had the superiority in men and resources. Due to that predominance, much of the war consisted of Union forces marching into the South and tangling with Confederate forces. Through much of the war, the Confederates often repulsed the Union armies but the Northern forces continued to return. This is exactly what happened. After Antietam, the North launched another offensive with disasterous results in front of Fredericksburg.

This is why Gettysburg and Antietam were such important battles. Lee understood the balance of power and sought to change it with his invasions of the North. The South could only win the war through a clear strategic victory on Union soil.

When those efforts failed, it was only a matter of time before Northern will and superiority of resources would begin to tell.

I'm curious to know your viewpoint. What is your opinion of the significance of Second Bull Run?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Impact of the Civil War from a Global Perspective

This post is inspired by Rea Andrew Redd's latest post on his Civil War Librarian blog.

I think it is important to recognize that the Civil War was a largely regional war. At best, its international impact was confined to Canada and Mexico. Our war later influenced Canada to create a stronger federation when it united in 1867. As for Mexico, the Civil War allowed France to prolong its occupation of that country. However, to the chagrin of Southern statesmen like Jefferson Davis, the war did not have a global significance. The failure of the South's policy of diplomatic recognition showed the regional significance of the conflict. Unlike our entry into the First World War, no outside power felt the need to get involved.

One should recognize that the United States at that time was what we would call a developing country. The center of art, culture and political power lay in Europe in the 1860's. The 1870 Franco-Prussian War had a far greater importance for Europe and the world than our Civil War. Though Britain and France were forced to choose about Confederate recognition, neither country felt the need to intervene.

Like the weaker side in any conflict, the South sought to internationalize the conflict. The North successfully sought to keep the diplomatic confines of the war within America. This was one reason Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. His edict made it impossible for Britain to recognize the Confederacy because the Proclamation electrified the anti-slavery British public in favor of the Union. It was a masterful diplomatic move that kept the war from becoming an international one.

This is not to detract from the massive significance that the war had within our country. It was a foundational conflict like the Revoltionary War that set our course forever. However, its global impact was limited at best.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Civil War Joke#1: Beware your mail

I think jokes represent the spirit of not only individuals but of eras as well. For this reason, they should be told.

A soldier left home to join the army and told his sweetheart that he would write to her every day. He fulfilled his pledge but after six months, his girlfriend sent him a Dear John letter and told him she was marrying someone else. When he wrote to his family asking for the author of this thievery, they informed him it was the MAILMAN.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

1st Civil War Black Unit Ordered into Existence Today

This is the picture of General David Hunter, the commander of the 1st South Carolina Infantry, the first black unit to be legally raised during the Civil War.

On this day in 1862, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton issued orders for General Hunter to assemble up to 5,000 men into army service.

Hunter had petitioned the War Department in April 1862 to muster black regiments. After a month, he received no response.

In May 1862, Hunter decided on self-help and dragooned thousands of contrabands in the Union-controlled Sea Islands. Many protested at being forced into the service against their will. Hunter allowed those unwilling to serve to go home. Those who stayed remained unofficially in the Army.

Word of Hunter's action reached Washington and caused an outcry. On August 9th, the War Department ordered him to disband his units. The reversal came on August 25th after Stanton and President Lincoln met with Robert Small and Mansfield French in the White House.

Hunter formed his regiment and the first of over 200,000 black soldiers began their service with the Union Army.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wilderness Vote Tonight

Tonight, the Orange County Board of Supervisors will vote on Wal Mart's application on the Wilderness battlefield.

After months of debate and protests, the Board will finally make its decision.

Last Friday, the county's Planning Commission deadlocked at 4-4 and did not vote to recommend Wal Mart's application. That was a denial in effect.

There is still time to take action. We can still email the Board of Supervisors. I sent my email in this morning. I urged them to reject Wal Mart's application and accept the offer of an alternative site by developer Fred Marcantoni. When they check their emails today, I hope they will feel pressured to reject the application.

This is our last chance to save the battlefield. Do we really want a Wal Mart superstore on the field where so many men gave their lives? Please take this step.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lincoln's Statement of Intent

On this day in 1862, President Lincoln gave his famous response to Horace Greeley's challenge to him to end slavery.

Lincoln replied,"If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."

As it turned out, Lincoln first freed some and others alone. He later freed them all.

This clarity of purpose and policy showed what a great leader he was. His overarching purpose was to save the Union. All else became ancillary to that central goal. Perhaps the war gave him that clarity.

Who knows if could have maintained that focus if he had lived? Would full citizenship for the former slaves been his central purpose after the war?

That is one of history what-ifs, so tantalizing yet elusive.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Final Decision on the Wilderness Wal Mart

Tonight, the Orange County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Wal Mart's application to build a superstore on the Wilderness battle site.

The Commission will hear all objections tonight and the county Board of Supervisors will vote on the application tonight or at 7pm on Friday. According to a local Fredericksburg newspaper, a majority of the supervisors is leaning towards approving the application.

What can we do? We can send emails to each of the supervisors. I have listed their email addresses in the June portion of my blog. You can cut and paste their addresses. In addition, you can go to the Civil War Preservation Trust website and enter your name to a prepared email to Michael Duke, the CEO of Wal Mart.

Only a public groundswell will stop this from happening.

Please help.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Potential Final Lincoln Signature

A man in South Amherst, Illinois might have Abraham Lincoln's final signature.

Bruce Steiner discovered a note on the back of an envelope he purchased at a flea market.

The note stated,"Let this man enter with this note. April 14, 1865. A. Lincoln."

Isn't it amazing what you can find at a flea market?

Obviously, the question arises about its authenticity. Steiner himself originally refused to believe it. Local historical societies shunned him.

However, John Lupton, the assistant director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, a preservation project at the Lincoln Library in Springfield, Illinois, supports Steiner's claim. Lupton believes the signature is authentic due to his handwriting analysis. It's clear that more analysis needs to be done.

Steiner's discovery shows the ad-hoc nature of government during the 19th century. An internal White House note or memo from the Obama or Bush Administrations would never end up at a garage sale. Those documents would lie in a Federal vault in Washington, DC awaiting declassification. It would be stamped "Classified" even if it were a purchase order to Wal Mart for toilet paper.

Times have changed.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Civil War Militaries: The Do-It-Yourself Armies

A Civil War soldier had to do everything himself, almost literally. I was inspired to write this post by an article in the Civil War Interactive about reenactors building their own huts.

When he went into winter quarters, a soldier had to build his own hut. As described by George Anson Bruce in the Regimental History of the 20th Massachussetts, the blowing of the autumn winds sent the men into nearby forests. They cut the trees and began the work of making the wood into housing blocks. They used a material called mother wit to keep out the drafts. They stayed in these self-made huts for months until the spring campaign season began. The men received a course each winter in logging and carpentry.

They also had to make their own meals. At any rest period, the coffee grounds went into mugs tied to pieces of wire. The fires were lit and the men made their own coffee. Many soldiers carried skillets over their shoulders as part of their gear. They would enjoy(?) a meal of coffee, bacon or salt pork leavened by hardtack. One historian quipped that this was a diet designed to create acute indigestion.

It was a different military. You did not have the legions of outside contractors to build the quarters or make the meals. Naturally, soldiers now have more specialized jobs so the contractors have become necessary. The amount of necessary support staff is much higher.

However, the Civil War clearly turned our soldiers into jacks of all trades.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

More Trouble in the State of Jones-New York Times Book Review

The New York Times has joined the chorus of questions about State of Jones. In his review, the CUNY history professor David Reynolds echoed many of the weaknesses in the book.

He mentions the lack of evidence for the authors' assertions. Reynolds writes, "The dearth of dependable primary evidence about Knight forces Jenkins and Stauffer to rely often on conjecture." He discusses the frequent use of the words and phrases like "perhaps" and "it is possible." Reynolds makes specific reference to the authors' assertions about Knight's alleged involvement in the battle of Vicksburg despite a lack of clear evidence of him having been there.

The historian also delineates other weaknesses like the lack of direct evidence of Knight's anti-slavery views at the start of the war and the lack of proof for Knight's relationship with Rachel, his alleged lover.

This additional critique of State of Jones further weakens the book's credibility.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, August 14, 2009

Canada in the Civil War

Since I went to Canada recently to visit my family there, I thought I would post about the role of Canada and Canadians in our Civil War.

It is estimated that several thousand Canadians fought in the Civil War. Most were Canadian immigrants who had come to the United States. Most fought for the Union side. A few joined the Confederate forces. The most prominent on the Union side was Edward P. Doherty, an officer who led the squad which captured and killed John Wilkes Booth twelve days after Lincoln's assassination. The most famous Canadian to fight for the South was George Ellsworth, a telegrapher for Confederate cavalry general John Hunt Morgan. Ellsworth played a valuable role in spreading misinformation about the whereabouts of Morgan's forces. No less than twenty-nine Canadians won the Medal of Honor.

The Canadian province of Quebec served as a base for Confederate covert operations. Many French Canadians took a curiously schizophrenic attitude toward the war. Though anti-slavery, a large number sympathized with secession. Perhaps they sensed that a divided United States would be to Canada's advantage.

Due to Canada's neutrality and this pro-Southern attitude, Montreal became a refuge for Southern operations against the North. Confederate agents launched a raid on St. Albans, Vermont in October 1864 and robbed banks there. Union forces pursued them into Canadian territory. Though the perpetrators were arrested, Canadian authorities dismissed the charges.

It should be remembered that Canada was still a possession of the British Empire at that time. Canada was a collection of colonies. In 1867, these separate possessions formed a confederation.

Due to the influence of our Civil War, the Confederation became a more centralized institution. A number of Canada's founders felt that America had given too much power to the states, allowing secession to occur. As a result, they created an appointed Senate with a Governor General appointed by London, an arrangement that lasted until 1931.

It would not be the last time when events in the United States affected our northern neighbor.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Lincoln Pennies

This penny is going on sale today. The US Mint is issuing new Lincoln pennies. A series of them will be issued this year to depict the president's life before his Presidency. This particular coin depicts his pre-presidential life as an attorney in Illinois. Other coins will be issued later this year by the Mint showing Lincoln's log cabin and other images. We are about to see a new side of our president.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Taking a Break

Folks, Civil War Et. Al. will be on hiatus for two weeks. My wife and I will be taking a vacation. I wish you all the best and look forward to chatting with you about all things Civil War related when I return.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bull Run and its Impact

During these days in 1861, both sides endured the impact of the first battle of Bull Run. The Civil War had a number of turning points that changed people's perceptions, from the man on the street to the elite at the top.
Bull Run or Manassas dispelled some craven illusions. Southerners assumed that the North would let them drift away. Northerners assumed that a quick show of force would sweep the South back into the fold. Neither side expected the shedding of blood.

Few people foresaw a long-term conflict. Those that did were not heeded. Before hostilities broke out, Confederate Attorney General Judah Benjamin proposed that a big shipment of cotton be sent to Europe. He wanted to use that revenue to pay for the war. His proposal went nowhere and the Confederacy eventually resorted to printing money to meet its expenses. Runaway inflation resulted.

There is also the episode of Sherman's "insanity" when he correctly predicted the armed strength the North would need to win the war.

Prophecies require time for the general mass of people to accept them.

Bull Run shattered any chance of a peaceful parting of ways. Shiloh demolished any hope of either side obtaining a cheap victory. Vicksburg and Gettysburg ended any opportunity of Southern victory short of Northern exhaustion.

Battles are like disasters. They shatter dogmas and sometimes, beliefs.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lincoln the Advisetaker

On this day in 1862, President Lincoln revealed the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his stunned Cabinet. He had not briefed anyone about this initiative. On Secretary of State William Seward's advice, Lincoln waited to release the Proclamation until a military victory. That would not come until September and the Battle of Antietam.

This decision shows Lincoln's greatness as a leader. He felt sure of himself yet he was willing to accept good advice. We have all worked for managers whose attitude was "When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." By accepting the advice, Lincoln added to the impact of the Proclamation. In so doing, he made it impossible for Britain and France to recognize the South.

He possessed that quality that every successful politician must have: good timing.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Comments on the Comments-The State of Jones

After writing my critique of The State of Jones, I took some time to read some of the criticisms of the book (i.e., I sat around in court and played with my Blackberry).

I read about the alleged historical holes in the book pointed out by the author Vicki Bynum. Specifically, my fellow bloggers discussed the lack of proof that Newton Knight actually served during the siege of Vicksburg. Second, they also talked about the evident lack of a declaration of secession by the Unionists in Jones County.

I think you might give the authors a pass on the Vicksburg question. Knight was captured before the siege and his unit found itself trapped in the city. It is a fair assumption to make that he was there. The lack of documentary proof of his presence there is understandable. Thousands of Confederate soldiers languished in the Southern earthworks and in the city itself. It was a chaotic situation. The authors of The State of Jones could hardly be expected to produce doumentation that probably did not exist or was most likely destroyed. There was no needle in that haystack because the needle probably never existed.

As for the declaration of secession, that may be correct. Throughout the book, I did not remember reading about a formal document severing Jones County from the Confederacy. It is clear that Southern authorities lost control of the county due to the depredations of Newton Knight and others. However, I don't recall a mention of a formal secession. As I mentioned in my review, they quoted extensively from their primary source materials. Such a declaration would definitely have made their list.

I hope Stauffer and Jenkins can answer these questions. They spent four years researching and writing their book. Perhaps they can come forward with an adequate rebuttal.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, July 20, 2009

An Unlikely Civil War Buff

One of my friends made an unlikely admission to me. He too is a Civil War buff.

His name is Getinder Singh (his friends call him GT). In accordance with Sikh religious customs, he wears a turban, a full beard and a kara (bracelet) on his arm. He is a criminal defense attorney who practices in the New York City and Long Island courts. He defends felons and drunk drivers. His job is to keep people from the iron bars. GT grew up in Richmond Hill, Queens from parents who came from the northwestern Indian state of Punjab.

We had known each other for a while when he told me that he had been to all the major battle sites in the East. He told me,"I dragged my kids there." He remarked about how amazing they are and how he wants his children to have some appreciation of American history.

Isn't is amazing? This is a man who is a first generation American yet he has a deep interest in our Civil War. This is also a man who has traveled all over the world yet he chose to see Gettysburg and Spotsylvania. It shows you what a compelling event it is. Civil War buffs are a diverse lot.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry